by Inlander Staff

A Lot Like Love -- On the whole it's a bit too precious, and there are characters that just aren't needed (wasn't a deaf, signing brother in Four Weddings and a Funeral enough?), but both Amanda Peet and Ashton Kutcher give winning performances in a story of an on-again off-again boy-girl relationship that stays at the friend level for seven years. They take turns being happy and unhappy, with and without each other, and are just terribly cute together. With the exception of some "drama" near they end, movies don't get much breezier. (ES) Rated PG-13

The Amityville Horror -- In the latest Amityville Horror, you get to see it all. Where chairs rocked and doors slammed unprovoked in the 1979 version, this Amityville reveals all -- blood, guts, bullets, axes, drowning, murder, possession, bugs, creepy kids, ghosts and more evil than a packed clown car. While the story is mostly the same as the original, the scenes that were terrifying in the '79 version hardly cause a blink in this one. These are modern scares -- the kind you forget about within a few minutes of the end credits. (Leah Sottile) Rated: R

Because of Winn-Dixie -- There's a formula at work in this lonely-girl-and-her-dog movie, and it's sho'nuff gonna lead to a reconciliation. Winn-Dixie is predictable and sentimental, underscoring its themes at every juncture. But that doesn't completely invalidate the value of Wayne Wang's movie, which brings back the likes of Eva Marie Saint and Cicely Tyson while emphasizing themes of healing, community and hope. (Michael Bowen) Rated: PG

Downfall -- The Oscar-nominated Downfall, which chronicles the final days of Hitler's Reich, is set almost entirely inside the claustrophobic command bunker below Berlin. It owes much of its creepy verisimilitude to the memories of Hitler's personal secretary, Traudl Junge. Much has been made about the film's "humanizing" of Hitler, but he's only human here in the most prosaic of terms. This shouty little lunatic is more monstrous than anything remotely resembling a well-balanced military leader. But it's Ulrich Matthes as Joseph Goebbels who finally lodges in your memory. (Marc Savlov) Rated: R (Showing at the Met on April 30, May 2 and May 5)

Fighter Pilot -- Don't fill your belly with hot dogs and cherry Icee before heading into this one. Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag belongs to that hallowed IMAX tradition of giving the audience as many dizzying visual stunts -- including take-offs, aerial spins, sudden drops in altitude, etc. -- as it can handle. Fighter Pilot is far more than a theme park ride however - it's getting rave reviews all over the country (including from The Seattle Times) for its narrative about a pilot who's wanted to fly ever since he was 8, and for its emphasis on all the heroes behind the scenes (the ones who rebuild jet engines overnight, clear pebbles from the runway and practice emergency rescue in fiery crash conditions). Not Rated.

Guess Who -- Big Bernie Mac is the future father-in-law, Ashton Kutcher is the future son-in-law who find many ways to butt heads in this racially charged, yet fresh updating of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. (ES) Rated PG-13

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Douglas Adams' popular novel comes to filmic life as Earthling Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) hitches a ride into outer space with his furtively alien pal Ford Prefect (Mos Def) when Earth is detonated to make way for a hyperspace bypass. Wacky aliens prevail as Arthur and Ford hitch their way onto a stolen spacecraft with a bi-polar (two-headed) President of the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox (Sam Rockwell) and Beeblebrox's cherished postmodern American assistant Trillian (Zooey Deschanel). It all unspools like an effortless compilation of humor from Monty Python, Men in Black, Mars Attacks and Brazil. It's a skeptical satire that fits slapstick physical humor with a biting sense of the importance of creative thought. (Cole Smithey) Rated PG-13,

I Married a Monster from Outer Space -- Despite the silly title, this is a thoughtful, entertaining alien invasion tale and one that was particularly effective when first released in 1958 at the height of the Red Scare. As in the similar Invasion of the Body Snatchers, aliens from "out there" are methodically replacing real humans -- and our heroine has the bad luck to marry one of the first. Slowly she realizes that her new husband's oddly stoic behavior is spreading to others in the town. But is it too late? Good paranoid fun, with aliens in their natural form looking pretty hideous and not nearly as laughable as some others from this period. (MC)

The Interpreter -- Nicole Kidman is a UN interpreter who overhears a plot to assassinate a bad guy African leader. Sean Penn is the FBI agent who checks her out, isn't sure if she's telling the truth and eventually must protect her. The biggest problems with the film are that it's dragged out to near-boredom territory, and there seems to be some sort of emotional wall between the two lead actors that neither one can climb over. (ES) Rated PG-13

Kung Fu Hustle -- Hong Kong writer-director-actor Stephen Chow delivers in all three areas in this deliriously ridiculous, action-filled nod to martial arts films, Sergio Leone and Looney Tunes. A small town is visited by the Axe Gang, who don't realize the town is home to some retired good guy warriors. Big battles ensue, as does the emergence of a wannabe bad guy (Chow). There's plenty of slapstick and visual effects, some terrific fights and some unexpected sweetness. (ES) Rated R

Lewis & amp; Clark -- The IMAX folks have packed a lot into this vivid account of the two adventurers' travels across the American wilderness. Narrator Jeff Bridges does pretty much all the speaking, while actors play out the scenes. And those scenes are played out in breathtakingly beautiful settings. Unrated

The Lost Boys -- All is well in the world when you've got your two Coreys (Haim, the cute one, and Feldman, the not-so-cute one). A soft-spokenly out-of-it Dianne Wiest moves her two teenage boys (Jason Patric, Corey Haim) to Santa Clara, "the murder capital of the world." The older boy - seduced by Jami Gertz, wearing Stevie Nicks' lacy frocks - falls in with a bunch of Jim Morrison-idolizing vampires. The younger boy takes bubble baths and sings funny blues songs while keeping the family dog - a big scary-looking Husky - nearby. Mom's new boyfriend (Edward Hermann) isn't the catch he seems and Kiefer Sutherland is clearly a proto-vamp for Buffy the Vampire Slayer's bleached blond bloodsucker, Spike. (Sheri Boggs) Rated: R (Playing at the Garland on Friday and Saturday nights)

Million Dollar Baby -- Clint Eastwood plays the crusty old boxing trainer, Hilary Swank is his enthusiastic young charge and Morgan Freeman is the wise observer. Swank's spunky, trashy Maggie signs up at an old-fashioned gym and must convince Eastwood's Frankie to become her teacher. She's really good, with great desire to match her moves. Eastwood's film traces her comet-like rise, tells of lost people finding each other, and tosses in a risky tonal shift that goes for the emotions of all the characters and every audience member. (ES) Rated PG-13

Miss Congeniality 2 -- Miss Congeniality 2 does the same exact thing as its predecessor: It transforms Gracie (Sandra Bullock) into a lip-gloss-wearing swan, has her parade through the movie doing sketch comedy in Prada. This tired sequel tries hard to be a chick flick about girl power, but fails miserably. (Cara Gardner) Rated: PG-13

Mystery of the Nile -- The cinematography is gorgeous, but this isn't one of IMAX's best efforts. Pasquale Scaturro and Gordon Brown are to be commended for successfully completing a previously impossible feat -- running the entire Nile River -- but the whole thing starts to feel like an episode of Survivor. Still, it's pretty to watch and carries a few IMAX moments. Not Rated

The Pacifier -- Vin Diesel plays a Navy SEAL who fails to protect a scientist and now must take care of the scientist's five kids. Watch him change diapers, trip over toys in the driveway, rebuff sullen teens and commandeer the Romanian nanny (Carol Kane)! It's James Bond meets Cheaper by the Dozen! Rated: PG

The Ring 2 -- The Ring 2 follows Rachel (Naomi Watts) and her son, Aidan (David Dorfman), who have recently moved to the Oregon coast in an attempt to leave their nightmarish past behind. But before they get too far, that little black-haired brat, Samara, is back. This time, she wants a new Mommy -- and Rachel's looking like a great pick. Directed by Ringu's Hideo Nakata, this Ring is as much of a scare-fest as the first. If the first Ring made you fear your television, The Ring 2 will make you terrified of your bathtub. (Leah Sottile) Rated: PG-13

Robots -- The makers of Ice Age return with a computer-animated fable about a na & iuml;ve young robot heading for the big city to make it as an inventor, but clashing with a money-hungry industrialist. The story is clich & eacute;-ridden, the sound is headache-inducing and the script desperately wants to be hip. (ES) Rated PG

Sahara -- If the filmmakers were hoping to instill in their audience the same sensations -- blurred vision, deadening thirst and above all, fear of never escaping -- that one might experience while trapped in the desert, they've succeeded. Based on the novel by Clive Cussler, Sahara's incoherent plot includes treasure hunters, sexy doctors, West African despots, plague, quasi-European bad guys and exploding vehicles. (SB) Rated: PG-13

Sin City -- The coolest movie of the year is also the most violent. There's also loads of action, a stunning look, and a perfect adaptation of Frank Miller's twisted graphic novel into an insane film. There are three intertwining stories about the denizens of the title locale, with Bruce Willis as a retiring cop, Benicio Del Toro and Clive Owen as bitter, dangerous enemies, and a whole gaggle of tough hookers. (ES) Rated R

The Upside of Anger -- The Upside of Anger is a gratifyingly bittersweet and bracingly dark comedy-drama. It's a stellar showcase for Joan Allen, the fierce, funny, shamelessly transfixing center of this haphazardly constructed yet rich drama of abandonment, denial, bargaining and acceptance. Kevin Costner is goofy/great as her drunk/buzzed neighbor; the sexy, crackling slow burn of their courtship is marvelous fun. (RP) Rated: R

XXX: State of the Union -- Samuel L. Jackson returns as the secret agent man responsible for hiring the new Triple X. And if you're looking to hire a real badass, prison ain't a bad place to do your H.R. search. Ice Cube is the badass in question, and we're told -- in gravelly voiceover -- he's an "Ex-Con. Ex-Navy Seal. And an Expert with Weapons." Exxxcellent. Ice Cube's first assignment: Find and destroy those responsible for trying to start "World War Four" with the good ol' U.S. of A. And while he's at it, maybe wipe that smirk off Willem Dafoe's face. Rated: PG-13

Publication date: 05/05/05

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